Chatham Baroque’s delivered a spirited series of performances this past weekend highlighting 16th- and 17th-century repertoire for three violins.
Friday’s performance at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair. featured violinists Andrew Fouts alongside guest artists Evan Few and Edwin Huizinga. All three played with ample technique and arresting poignancy, their sounds blending with a surprising degree of warmth and intensity. Patricia Halverson anchored the bass side of the music via violone (an early form of double bass) with Scott Pauley and David Walker amplifying and filling out the continuo lines with theorbo (a long lute) and baroque guitar.
Featured composers included Purcell, Castaldi, Gabrieli, Rieck, Schmelzer and more. Chatham and guests performed each with ringing clarity and prodigious grace. Pachelbel’s ubiquitous Canon and Gigue in D Major proved a surprising highlight. Anyone who’s ever been to a wedding might be surprised at the original tempo of the music. The sextet’s interpretation of Rieck’s Suite VI in D Minor was exquisite as well, with long, flowing phrases punctuated by bursts of whizzing scales and arpeggios throughout each short movement.
The musicians chatted with the audience between movements, maintaining an easy familiarity and helping to distract from the constant (but very necessary) tuning between works. (Gut stringed instruments fall out of tune significantly faster than modern instruments.)
The Post-Gazette’s classical music coverage is primarily focused on Pittsburgh’s larger organizations, but in terms of quality of artistry, Chatham Baroque is comfortably on par with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Opera.
With a fiscal budget of $415,000 this year, the organization performs five unique programs on its main concert series, attracting roughly 450 listeners each concert weekend. It also tours the U.S. and performs other concerts.
Jeremy Reynolds: email@example.com or 412-263-1634; twitter: @Reynolds_PG. Mr. Reynolds’ work at the Post-Gazette is supported by a grant from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Getty Foundation and the Rubin Institute.